I seem to remember that I said I would keep you up to date with the progress of my re-assessment for Incapacity Benefit, so this is the first progress report. You can imagine some sort of exciting fanfare if you’re the sort of person who likes imagining exciting fanfares, or you can just go for an empathetic sharing of the feelings of nausea and wild panic that this whole thing is inspiring in me.
First of all, I should clarify – I don’t actually get Incapacity Benefit. This whole palaver is in order to get National Insurance credits on the grounds of ill-health. As a result of getting these, I then become eligible for Income Support (because I’m adjudged incapable of working, and I have no other source of income), but my IS is paid at exactly the same rate as IB would be. The reason I don’t just get IB is that my contribution record apparently shows that I haven’t paid enough National Insurance to become eligible for it. When I was first told this it came as something of a surprise, as I had over a decade’s worth of Class 1 contributions taken off my various salaries before I became an evil work-shy scrounger. But, since I was going to get the same amount of money regardless, I decided not to request a formal investigation by the Inland Revenue. There’s only so much bureaucracy one poor, lonely, mentalist poof can stand…
Anyway, to get back to the point (I’d make a rubbish thriller writer, I’m afraid), I sent off my form. Quite close to the deadline, but it’s going first class, and the regional office is only a few miles away from me, so it should make it alright.
I was slightly surprised when I was looking through my ‘filing system’ (a dusty pile of envelopes in the corner of the room) to see that the last re-assessment I have kept the paperwork for was back in 2006. I’m more or less certain that’s not the last one I had, although a lot of 2007 is more-or-less blank for me, so it is possible. (When I’m at my most depressed I tend to suffer fairly catastrophic memory problems, both in terms of recalling stuff at the time, but also in terms of laying memories down in the first place.) It does seem rather unlikely that I would have been left 27 months between assessments, I must say. I had at the back of my mind I was due one in April of this year, which would suggest I maybe had one in late spring/ early summer last year – for me, at any rate, they seem to crop up every 8-12 months on average.
I was looking for the previous paperwork as I usually like to look over what I said last time round in order to get inspiration for the current attempt. I try not to just copy it out word for word because usually the precise set of problems has altered slightly, and, on a more practical level, just copying the same words might, if they actually keep hold of the records, make it seem like I was trying to cheat the system. Anyway, I think my statement this time round was reasonably ok – if the medic from the DWP uses it as the basis of her/ his assessment of my fitness then things should have reasonable outcome. But that’s a big if…
It occurred to me while I was writing out what I wanted to say on the form that I actually have a fairly detailed knowledge of what it is the DWP are looking for in terms of the Personal Capability Assessment (PCA). As a result of my appeal from a couple of years back, I actually have a copy of the official criteria that are applied, both by the DWP’s doctors, and the administrators who look at the IB50 form completed by the claimant. I was thinking it might be worth doing a post about this, as the information is quite handy when it comes to working out the right way to talk about the problems you’re having. I guess it might also be interesting for more general readers who want to know what goes on.
I’m going to be working on this post anyway, I think, but if you do think it would be useful/ interesting to you then let me know in the comments to this post, and I’ll try to hurry it up a bit… ;o)